Jul 12 / Fiona Moran

How to Get a Promotion in Finance

Promotions for most are the hallmark of successful career progression. In general, promotions are based on either the system of seniority or meritocracy.

Seniority versus Meritocracy 

Traditionally, seniority was most dominant as senior employees have experience and a deeper knowledge of the organization which is vital for leadership positions.  Merit-based promotions support the reward system and value high performing individuals in the workplace.  Either way, to navigate the financial career ladder, employees must view promotions as a process that needs to be initiated and carefully managed.  

Seven tips for getting a promotion in finance  


Outlined below are some useful tips that can be followed as part of your promotion process in the finance industry. Many of the tips are also relevant to promotions within any industry. 

1 Proactively pursue an internal promotion 

Mapping out your career pathway and intentions is the first step in achieving your goal. Make a plan that will give you something to work towards and a path to follow.
The next step is to proactively pursue this. Make your boss aware of your career intentions and schedule regular check-ins with your boss or mentor to track your progress.

 Actionable advice
On average it takes a junior financial analyst three to four years to progress to senior analyst. To advance this process, work on your presentation skills which will be important for portraying your knowledge and analysis skills to your team and upper management. Learning the tools of the trade eg. Excel is also important for this role and will allow you to demonstrate sophisticated analysis. 

2 Document your achievements 

It is important to effectively articulate your experience, achievements, and contributions to the company.
Document your accomplishments in physical form to ensure that you make the best case verbally if you are in an interview, performance review, or in discussions with your boss.
It is important to support your claims with quantifiable data on how you achieved these goals.

 Actionable advice
Documenting your achievement can be in the form of regularly updating your CV every few weeks or months, keeping a portfolio of work or an achievements file. 

3 Upskill, reskill, and further your education  

Once you have defined your career path, consider investing in professional development with a course that will help you expand your skills and knowledge relevant to the promotion you want or areas critical to the organization.
An online course is a great way to add value to your CV and combine fundamental and latest theory with your pre-existing experience.
This will increase your marketability and show your commitment to continuous education and the latest trends in the industry.
 Actionable advice
The FinTech revolution is swooping the financial world and finance companies are increasingly relying on Data Science, AI, and Machine Learning to optimize their business processes. Cryptography & Blockchain are ‘hot topics’ in finance and are radically changing the finance world. Gaining a certificate to show knowledge of these areas is sure to benefit your career progression. 

4 Do more

Become indispensable at work.
Figure out areas within your firm that need addressing and work towards providing solutions for these problems. Break out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to take on new tasks and responsibilities.

 Actionable advice
One way to ensure you are indispensable to your employer is to monopolize a specific task, skill, or client relationship. This can be achieved by taking over a specific task or account when a co-worker leaves the company or by taking responsibility during a new initiative. 

5 Research the growth of your company and align your advancement with this. 

If you are focused on an internal promotion, take the time to understand your company’s growth plans and define the actions you can take to be a valuable part of these developments.
The financial marketplace is rapidly evolving with forces such as the FinTech revolution and a shift to a digitally driven marketplace at the forefront of change.
Many finance firms are currently adopting new approaches to work, including a more values-driven approach, integrating a more socially conscious perspective into how they do business.
 Actionable advice
The interest of financial firms in emerging areas of the industry (such as ESG investing) is on the incline. If you can positively contribute toward your firm’s drive to improve in this area, it will not only show your worth, but also show your willingness to progress and make a difference.  

6 Become a leader  

Hone your leadership skills and demonstrate your capability by putting yourself forward for more responsibility.
Show that you can consistently take ownership of projects and see them through from start to finish.
This is also an opportunity to practice your team skills as all great leaders need to be team players to effectively lead and inspire their co-workers.

 Actionable advice
To be seen as a leader at work, put yourself forward for leadership positions. This can range from minor to major roles like training a new hire, organizing a social event, or suggesting and successfully executing a new project. 

7 Internal Networking 

It is important to be able to navigate office politics and establish a strong network of contacts throughout your organization.
There are many stakeholders involved in the approval of a promotion including a boss, senior management and HR. In addition to this, finding a more senior mentor within your company or industry is an effective way to gain valuable insights and career advice that can set you on the right track and hold you accountable for progress.

 Actionable advice
Attend networking events, in person and virtually to expand your professional network. After these events, follow up with the people you met by connecting with them on LinkedIn or by sending them an email. Begin to market yourself online by creating and cultivating your professional online brand and presence. Try to regularly interact and converse with your network on LinkedIn through comments, likes, and InMails. Reach out to people who you are interested in networking with or receiving career advice from and invite them for a coffee to open the conversation. 

Conclusion

If you have implemented all these tips and are still seeing no improvement in the prospect of an internal promotion, perhaps it is time to move on and find a company with greater growth and advancement opportunities. You will be well positioned in the marketplace with newly acquired knowledge and skills of emerging and fundamental financial topics, leadership experience, and a strong network of contacts.